Running the numbers one last time, Ianto sighed and leaned back. The only way to get what he really wanted was to get Jack involved. Which meant a discussion he really didn't want to have.
"Quite a sigh there," Jack said.
"I thought you were asleep."
"Nah, just drowsing. Enjoying what feels like impossible luxury."
"With peeling paint," Ianto said, looking around his bedroom. The peeling paint was a small point on a long list of annoyances.
"Don't care about the paint." Jack's smile was lazy and promising.
It would be so easy for Ianto to just let himself drown in that smile and the pleasure it promised. He glanced at the paint and took a deep breath to steel himself. "How . . . what would you say we are?"
The smile vanished from Jack's face and he froze. Then he smiled again, the big smile he gave the world so he could hide, and said, "Y'know I love you, don't you?"
Ianto could almost hear Jack's thoughts racing, about how to end a conversation that he really didn't want to have. Fortunately, it wasn't the one Ianto had intended on having. "And I you," he said, not quite chuckling. He gave Jack a nearly chaste kiss. "Relax, that wasn't what I meant. I hate this flat and I'm going to move. As soon as I can find something acceptable. Unfortunately, most of what I've found that I can afford isn't acceptable. Double the money, though . . ." He hoped Jack would pick up on the hint. And agree. It wasn't as if Jack ever slept at the Hub anymore. Not since Grey.
The same calculation seemed to be running through Jack's head. "My name can't be on the lease."
"Paper trail," Ianto said, to show that he understood the problem. He could work around that, easily. He kept quiet and let Jack make the next move.
Jack grinned. "Do I get a say in where we move? Y'know, if I'm paying half."
Ianto felt like sagging in relief, but he managed to keep it to a sigh. "We can't live on a roof. And most of the places I suspect you're thinking of are too expensive. But, otherwise, sure." He took a deep breath. As long as they were sort of on the subject, it was worth asking. "Jack, I don't want to change anything, but what are we? The lines have changed and I'd like to know where I stand."
"We've gone rather far beyond 'just convenient sex', haven't we?" Jack mused. Then he sat up straight, with a huge grin and twinkling eyes and said, "The Sacred Band of Thebes."
When it was clear that no explanation was forthcoming, Ianto nodded. "Is this a new position, or some completely new—?"
Jack didn't let him finish. "No, although I like the way your mind works," he said, laughing. "According to legend, the Sacred Band was an elite group of warriors in the Greek army. Or a Greek army; I'm a little fuzzy on the details. They were paired off, with each pair having an older man and a younger one, and they were lovers. It was thought it would make them more honourable and braver, since it was their lover they'd be answering to, and not just a fellow warrior." Jack shrugged. "I only know about it because the Time Agency encouraged us to follow their example, especially when they paired you off the first time." His eyes got a faraway look in them. "God, I haven't thought about Lydia in years."
"Lydia was your first partner?" Ianto asked, trying to soak up all the information Jack was revealing. He still knew so little about Jack's past, especially his past before he came to Torchwood's attention at the end of the nineteenth century.
"Yeah. She was a bit older, planning on retiring soon; well, she did, about two years later." Jack shook his head. "She had her hands full with me, too; I learned so much from her. Not just about the Agency, but about everything." He turned to look at Ianto. "That's the way it was supposed to work." He laughed. "I can still remember lying in bed next to her the first time in total awe. I'd been thinking that she might not be all that attractive, but she was well thought of in the Agency and pairing up with her was a really good thing for me. So, there I was, trying to remember exactly what we'd done, because it had been amazing, and she says, 'Well, at least if I have to break in a rookie, he's a pretty boy who hasn't picked up too many bad habits. You just might do, kid.'"
Laughing, Ianto said, "Sounds like something you'd say."
"Now, yeah. Then?" Jack shook his head. "Not what I wanted to hear; I thought I knew everything."
Ianto thought about what Jack had said. "Older paired with younger. Just like us?" Mentor/protégé, he thought, finally able to put a label on what he and Jack had become to one another, one that made sense to him. Weevil hunting and working through the archives and going over what went wrong and what went right in the field, all mixed together with how to order a bottle of wine and how to get a superior to give you the orders you wanted. Things that had been irritating him because weren't lovers supposed to be equals, not one constantly trying to teach the other one stuff, even if there was a gap in age of over a century. But Jack, consciously or not, hadn't really been seeing them as equals; he'd been seeing Ianto as someone . . . "Presumably I'm at least a 'pretty boy who hasn't picked up too many bad habits'," he said dryly, hoping his insecurity wasn't as obvious as he thought it probably was.
"Much more, believe me," Jack said, laughing. "Lydia would've loved you; she had a real thing for manners like yours." He grinned, and kissed Ianto lightly. "She probably wouldn't have let the Time Agency keep you without a fight when she retired." His second kiss turned into a proper snog. When Jack finally broke it, as he started tracing Ianto's neck with his tongue, he murmured, "Let me show you Lydia's favourite lesson."
Later, sticky and sated, Ianto said, "So, the Sacred Band of Cardiff. I like it."
Jack burst into laughter. "Let's see these flats you like."